Suffering. Not many people enjoy talking about it, and nobody likes experiencing it. But often the most painful times in our lives are some of the most meaningful. They're times that we grow stronger and learn to appreciate what we have.
When you hear the word "suffering," what experiences in life come to your mind? How did you respond and grow through those experiences?
We don't always respond well when we're in pain, and often we don't know what to do. Suffering can lead us to isolate ourselves from others, or even to punish ourselves if we feel guilt or shame. That's why Jesus Christ had a radical message when he said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." What did he mean?
How can suffering be good for us?
It can strengthen us as we learn to persevere and endure through the hardest times of our lives. How many times did you doubt whether you would make it through, and yet you're still here?
It can also draw us closer to people in our lives (and to God), as we share our grief with them and allow them to support us. Who are 2-3 people to whom you can share the challenges and pain in your life?
It can deepen our capacity for love and compassion. When you see people who are suffering, do you remember what it felt like to go through your own pain? Does it change the way you see them now?
But even if you feel you can't endure, and that you have nobody in your life to share in your pain, there's still good news. The message of Christianity is that God sees each of us in our darkest struggles, loves us, and has promised to always be with us. He has promised to be our strength in times of weakness. It's a standing offer, available to all no matter how bad things are in our lives!
If we accept this offer, we will have the ultimate source of strength in our lives, and we will never be alone. We will learn to grow even more through our suffering.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Strength in Suffering
Strength and suffering are the soil of strengh and courage.
Strength is born in the deep silence of long-suffering hearts. Not amid joy.
It makes cautious
And I hold back
The thought of pain
And to a degree my joy
Is held back too
When all I can do is think of what might be
Instead of what is
Keeping my head down
Focused on falling
When looking up
Will keep me standing
Trust your instincts
Feel it out
It will never let you down
...Until it does
But it’s not so bad
When you fall onto a pillow
How does this fit into the bigger picture? What might this mean for my life?